The way the Congress government has conducted itself in the public domain is disgraceful. A deadly violence broke out a few days in the sensitive Assam and the government dilly-dallied with its reaction. The Centre and state blamed each other for some time. Reports said the authorities did not care for the warnings about a flare-up and finally when the Prime Minister reached the ravaged area, Assam had already turned into a slaughter house.
Few days after, a train compartment caught fire in Andhra Pradesh, which left a number of people charred. A media uproar followed over the incident and angry voices were heard about the ill-effects of sacrificing an important ministry like the railways before petty coalitional politics. The Prime Minister, labelled recently as an underachiever by the Time magazine, condoled the shocking deaths, as usual.
Meanwhile, we saw Congress leader Ambika Soni taking a dig at Gujarat Chief Minister Narendra Modi for 'trying to work for Gujarat's development at the cost of other states', a ridiculous observation indeed. The Congress was also seen criticising Delhi Chief Minister Sheila Dixit and more recently an MP, Vijay Darda for appreciating Modi for his model of governance.
This shows how eroded the Congress leadership stands today and its failure to ensure even the minimum safety to common people. But what gives it ground to hit back at a man who is known for his good work on governance? The Congress is behaving in a way as if it has already been defeated by Narendra Modi and trying to malign him unnecessarily by launching absolutely baseless attacks.
A government with a mute leader?
The Assam violence and the train fire have established that the Congress has basically lost any moral authority to rule. It has managed to drag on just because the opposition has failed to capitalise on its drawbacks and stood far too fragmented, as we saw in the recent presidential election. Political miscalculations by allies like the Trinamool Congress also gave the Congress a temporary taste of victory. It used the presidential election effectively to emerge a better side in coalition politics, much due to the lack of steam in other parties.
But while it was the party that did well in political manoeuvrability, the government failed miserably on ground. Sonia Gandhi might still be a force in party affairs, but the zero leadership of a Manmohan Singh has created a big void in governance. The party has tried to promote Rahul Gandhi but the transition won't be easy even for a Gandhi to straightaway reduce the trust deficit.
It is understood that Monmohan Singh is no political leader. He is at best a 'super bureaucrat' who was appointed to carry out a key role by a Gandhi who heavily relied on him. The two share a good chemistry and Sonia, it is learnt, back the PM's pro-liberal economic ideology. But what about the political part? If such a crucial institution like the PMO stands crippled like this, then who can give the country a direction to move on?
No inner democracy ruins party's chances on ground
The problem with Congress is that since it has no democratic way of governance at the top, there is little decentralisation on the ground. For a place like the north-east, it is a key necessity or else the localised aspirations can never find a creditable outlet and will clash with the interests of the bigger nation-state.
The onus more lies on the Congress to have ensured a developed north-east for it is still the biggest political force in that part of the country. But it has actually messed up the whole thing and never stressed the need to comprehensively deal with the issue, in terms of economy, politics and administration. A hapless Centre just continues to turn to the military to ease its tension. It's an irony that Manmohan Singh, despite being an MP from the violence-hit state, has done nothing to address the burning issues even in the last eight years since he got the top post. Did he ever take any interest or was he waiting for a high command?
Disgraceful leadership in coalition politics
The other disgrace for the government has been the way it has handled coalition politics. Despite differences with various allies at times, the party managed to keep the numbers together but when it came to taking strong decisions in the public interest, there has been a clear lack of leadership. How can the PM allow the railway ministry to be hijacked by a party, which has little credibility in the public domain, and allow thousands of lives at stake everyday?
How can a PM allow a regional leader dictate terms at the capital on him over replacing an incumbent railway minister for making moves for the betterment of public service? While choosing a candidate for the presidential election, the Congress did not let go an inch and the same threatening leader was sent back home red-faced. Is it that the party puts a much bigger emphasis on getting its own political gains right rather than secure the common man who brought it to power for two consecutive terms?
Why don't the PM, considered a man of integrity, hold the railway minister or for that matter anybody who failed to cater to the people, responsible for all inefficiency and misdeeds? Again, did he wait for a high command to descend on him?
Why such an attitude towards Modi? Out of fear?
With such a pathetic leader in front, the Congress sycophants decide to launch an attack on Narendra Modi, knowing very well that he has emerged into a viable option for a greater part of India, if not the entire nation. But whether Modi can win the heart of the entire nation is a different question altogether. The Congress, with its non-functional leader and governance, can not just victimise the BJP leader just on the basis of past events. If history is to be taken into account, the Congress itself will end up under the lens as well.
Narendra Modi recently took a dig at the PM saying the latter was still reading a vision document for the northeast, which he had presented in 2008. Rightly so. If Maruti shows interest in Gujarat after the experience it had in Haryana, a Congress-ruled state, then who's at fault?
Congress should go back to the basics
It is high time that the Congress goes back to its basics and rethink how to rediscover itself. The party has completed its course of decline, which was set in motion by leader like Indira Gandhi. People like Ambika Soni, who reached her prominence during the days of the former Prime Minister, have little understanding of issues of governance and reveal the moral bankruptcy of the party more.
There are undoubtedly elements within the party who know how paralysed the Congress leadership is but still fear to express anything for that will only earn backlash as sycophancy is the only currency that works in the Congress. May be the dissatisfied voices try to eulogise Modi to make an indirect reference to that. If this is the state of India's oldest political party, historically known for its liberal ideology, then it is high time the people of India reject it with disdain.